As has been stated by the Lawyers Collective in their public statement, the CBI’s actions are illegal, mala fide and a blatant abuse of law.
Rather than through high-handed raids, the evidence of the selfless and relentless work of the Lawyers Collective can be found in the lives of lakhs of people who have benefited from their legal advice and support. Their doors have always been open for the weakest and the most marginalised, those who had nowhere else to go, to those who were shunned and silenced and to those who needed refuge and hope in the judicial process.
The HIV response in India stands out for its excellence in no small measure due to the selfless contributions of all at the Lawyers Collective. Each of undersigned are witness to the enormous contributions of the Lawyers Collective since the mid-1990’s, standing shoulder to shoulder with the most marginalized among us when no one else would care.
Each of us have benefited, individually and collectively, from the impact of the work done by Lawyers Collective – the process of justice and its hard won fruits have reinstated our faith in the Indian Judiciary and the Constitution of India.
If the whole world acknowledges the strides India has made in articulating the law on HIV/AIDS (2017) it is because the Lawyers Collective found the resources and invested its expertise and its heart in trying to protect the rights of people living with HIV.
If women in India today can walk into a police station and seek protection under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, it is because the Lawyers Collective rose to marshal every legal instrument to draft and monitor the implementation of this law. The legal battle against section 377, IPC that criminalised same-sex relations as well as the recognition of transgender identity and rights was started by the Lawyers Collective at a time when no one wanted to talk about the issue, when neither courts nor lawyers had the resources to understand and battle the nuances of discrimination against sexual minorities.
Lawyers Collective took on unpopular and challenging issues affecting marginalised groups, more recently, in drafting changes to ensure access to harm reduction services and essential narcotic drugs under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic (Amendment) Act, 2014
Every patient today who avails of life saving drugs has Lawyers Collective to thank for securing affordable medicines by preserving public health safeguards under section 3(d) the Patents Act, 1970.
We are deeply concerned that by targeting Lawyers Collective and its founding trustees – Ms. Indira Jaising and Mr. Anand Grover, a chilling message is being sent to civil society to toe the line and curb dissent.
We stand with the Lawyers Collective, Ms. Indira Jaising and Mr Anand Grover and urge them to stay undeterred and continue to respond based on their Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights.
We demand an immediate stop to this deliberate and illegal harassment of Lawyer's Collective. Civil Society stands firmly in their support and will take all necessary action to resist and challenge this arbitrary action by the Government of India.